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Kempinski Hotel Duke's Palace, Bruges 

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8 Prinsenhof
Belgium 8000
Tel: 800 426 3135 (toll-free)
Tel: 32 50 44 78 88
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From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
Full-barrel international style arrives in medieval Bruges, a place better known for its cozy, idiosyncratic lodgings. At the 93-room Kempinski, in a fifteenth-century castle in a cul-de-sac, the best rooms have fireplaces and original oil paintings. The building has been beautifully restored to evoke its rich history (it was originally built by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, to celebrate his marriage to Isabelle of Portugal), while its delightful gardens are ornamented with striking contemporary sculpture by artists including Quirin Mayer and Stephanie le Roux. Otherwise, aside from its own chapel complete with stained-glass windows, the hotel's game-changing amenity is a stunning indoor pool and spa, both of which are unique in Bruges. Tapestry-inspired color schemes—burgundy, bronze, moss green—create a rich look in all room categories, and polished black stone bathrooms come with under-floor heating. The high prices in the hotel's Manuscript restaurant will probably encourage you to eat elsewhere—hardly a problem in a town with so many excellent choices—and the service is somewhat wiltingly stiff, but otherwise, the Kempinski is a winner. —2009 Hot List

When to go: Late spring and early summer are lovely in Bruges, and the city is charming at Christmas, too.

Which room to book: Splurge on one of the 22 suites with a decorative fireplace.

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